Just 20 of the millions of reasons to love Maui
- Hale Pa‘i (House of Printing) On the hillside above Lahaina sits an unassuming, single-story building. But as they say, looks can be deceiving. One of the most significant structures associated with Hawai‘i’s missionary history, Hale Pa‘i was the first print shop in the islands. It published the first Hawaiian-language newspaper, and in 1843, engraved and printed the first paper currency in Hawai‘i. Incidentally, that same year, it was the scene of the islands’ first case of counterfeiting. Today, Hale Pa‘i is a museum, displaying printed materials, metal type and other accoutrements of that early form of printing.
2. Makaluapuna Point (aka Dragon’s Teeth) Millions of years ago, in one of its last efforts as a hotheaded entity, the West Maui volcano spewed forth a cascade of molten lava, which rolled down the mountainside and met the sea in a fount of sizzling steam. But the wind and water beat the lava back toward the land, an interplay that created Makaluapuna Point, and the fierce formation of jagged peaks along its rim known as Dragon’s Teeth. Want to step into the dragon’s mouth? From Honoapi‘ilani Highway, (Route 30), turn left on to Office Road in Kapalua. Drive to the end, turn right and park in the lot. Follow the marked trail that leads to the ocean and arrive at the place where the lava bites the sea.
3. Canoe Races For thousands of years, the wa‘a (canoe) was the only mode of transportation between Pacific Island nations. The 1976 journey from Hawai‘i to Tahiti by the Hokule‘a, the first modern replica of a traditional voyaging canoe, proved ancient Polynesians could navigate the ocean by wind, stars and currents alone. In doing so, the vessel helped launch the Hawaiian Renaissance. Today, Maui boasts about a dozen canoe clubs, with members young and old, that conduct year-round regattas and charity paddles. More adventurous athletes participate in races such as the Pailolo Challenge, a 26-mile paddle that launches from D.T. Fleming Park in Kapalua, crosses the treacherous Pailolo Channel, and finishes at the west end of Moloka‘i.
4. Get to Know Nunu Snorkelers are always on the lookout for parrotfish, angelfish and of course our state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua‘a. But the nunu, aka the trumpetfish, is just as worthy of a gander. Its slender body can grow up to three feet long, and can change from gray to yellow to orange-brown for camouflage. Nunu often hang vertically next to corals to hide while waiting for prey, undulating with the motion of the ocean until a small fish or crustacean happens by. At which point the nunu quickly opens its wide mouth, creating a superstrong suction to vacuum up its meal.
5. Winged Warriors Many of Maui’s forest birds are endangered by threats such as mosquito-borne avian malaria and climate change. Fortunately, organizations like the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project are dedicated to restoring our island’s forests, and saving our at-risk flying friends, including the kiwikiu (Maui parrotbill), ‘i‘iwi (scarlet honeycreeper) and ‘alala (Hawaiian crow). Visit mauiforestbirds.org to donate or volunteer.
6. Old Lahaina Lu‘au For more than 35 years, this shorefront venue has been producing authentic Hawaiian lu‘au, and for 19 of those years, it has won the Gold ‘Aipono Restaurant Award for Best Lu‘au — and with good reason. OLL serves delicious traditional Hawaiian food, such as coconut haupia (pudding), imu-roasted kalua pig, lomilomi salmon and poi; but you’ll leave with more than a full o‘pu (belly). The performers tell the story of Polynesian culture and history through music, song and dance. Tales of the ancestors resonate in your chest with each beat of the pahu (Hawaiian drums), while the chants and hula dancers’ hips tell of kings and queens, missionaries and migrations, as the sun sets below the horizon. oldlahainaluau.com
7. Camp Imua, the Happiest Place on Maui In Hawaiian, imua means “to move forward,” and since 1976, Camp Imua has been empowering children with special needs and their families to reach their potential and move forward. Each year, 50 school-age children and 150 volunteers come together for a weeklong overnight recreational camp with arts and crafts, games, horseback riding, ziplining and even helicopter rides! imuafamily.org | paddleimua.com
8. Whoopee for Wahi! In 2018, the Kashtan family spent a day cleaning up a beach on the south side of Maui. The abundance of plastic and microplastics they collected simultaneously horrified and inspired them to take action. Today, their company, Wahi Ocean Friendly Alternatives, makes sustainable, recyclable products out of bamboo and stainless steel as substitutes for single-use plastics, including cutlery, drinking straws, bottle openers and toothbrushes. wahihawaii.org
9. Hosmer Grove Loop Trail At 6,750-foot elevation, this kid-friendly hike just inside Haleakala National Park is an easy half-mile loop. The trailhead starts at the back of Hosmer Grove Campground, and meanders through forests of both native and nonnative trees, and subalpine shrublands featuring endemics like kilau ferns and mamane. Birdwatchers, be on the lookout for some of Maui’s beautiful and endangered honeycreepers, including the ‘i‘iwi and the ‘apapane.
10. Clifford Nae‘ole For nearly 30 years, Clifford Nae‘ole has served as the cultural advisor for The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, educating employees and guests alike on Hawaiian protocol, cultural traditions and mo‘olelo (storytelling). Nae‘ole advocates for the preservation of wahi kapu (sacred places), and played a pivotal role in the preservation of an ancient, unmarked burial site at Honokahua, adjacent to The Ritz. Nae‘ole presents a weekly “Sense of Place” video, as well as a walk-and-talk session to the site, but his influence extends well beyond the resort. Nae‘ole is very involved with the Maui community, serving as chairman for the Celebration of the Arts — an annual three-day festival he created 24 years ago to honor the people, art and culture of Hawai‘i. He is also a Hawaiian chanter and hula dancer, and has performed official ceremonies and traditional blessings throughout the world.
11. Pineapple Chapel What a sweet place to say “I do!” This historic location situated along the Oneloa Bay in Kapalua was originally a church for plantation workers. Today, it is a sought-after wedding venue, flooded with bright, natural light, and two large green spaces to accommodate big events. Bonus: It’s pet-friendly! mauipineapplechapel.com
12. Local Lotions We love to support Maui’s small businesses, and you can, too. Before you hit the beach, screen up with One Love Body Soul’s mineral-based sunscreen. Its organic, island-sourced ingredients provide UVA and UVB protection without harming humans, fish or corals. Post-fun-and-sun, slather on some Maui Babe After Sun Lotion, a paraben-free product that soothes and heals skin with local ingredients such as macadamia nut oil and aloe vera. mauibabe.com | onelovebodysoul.com
13. Kapalua Wine & Food Festival Since 1981, the businesses of Kapalua have come together to celebrate epicurean excellence on the island of Maui. Guests of this weekend-long festival can rub elbows with master sommeliers, prominent winemakers and acclaimed chefs while enjoying fine food, cooking demonstrations, pairing dinners and even a golf tournament. kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com
14. Maui Cookie Lab Heidi Cramer discovered her love of baking as a child while in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother. In 2018, she founded Maui Cookie Lab and sold her goods from her traveling cookie truck; three years later, she added a brick-and-mortar location in Kahului. All her cookies are made with simple, real ingredients, and her island-inspired flavors include chocolate chunk sea salt, liliko‘i oatmeal and ginger spice. Yum! mauicookielab.com
15. Pa‘ia Stoplight Though traffic is never cause for celebration, it does give you time to people watch. And when it comes to interesting characters, there’s no better stoplight than the one in Pa‘ia. The melee of surfers rinsing off the sea at the beach showers, after-school kids loitering at the youth center, would-be yogis striking a pose on any available lawn, and jugglers practicing their hand-eye coordination on the basketball courts is captivating. At rush hour, in the cast of the waning evening sun, the scene is quintessentially Pa‘ia. paiacommunity.org
16. ‘Aina Brands Nespresso Pods Grown and harvested right here on Maui, this coffee has hints of chocolate, almonds and honey, and will quickly become your local java of choice. The Nespresso-compatible pods are made with eco-friendly, recyclable aluminum capsules, and ‘ina Brands donates 10 percent of its profits to Imua Family Services and the Imua Discovery Garden. theainabrands.com
17. Picnics at Ocean Organic Vodka You may have taken a tour (and a tipple) at the Ocean Vodka Farm and Distillery in Kula, but now this 80-acre venue also offers food. Order online and your meal is ready for pickup at Café at the Point when you arrive. Enjoy the spectacular view from a picnic table as you sip one of Ocean Vodka’s custom cocktails and nibble on starters like Ocean Poke Nachos or a Lapa‘au Garden Salad. For a heartier meal, try the Mac-Nut-Pesto flatbread or the Cubano Calzone with pulled pork, and for dessert: Toasted Coconut Tiramisu made with Kula rum. oceanvodka.com
18. DIY Lana‘i There’s lots on Lana‘i for the do-it-yourself adventurer. Grab your mountain bike, snorkeling gear and cycling kit and hop the early-morning ferry out of Lahaina. Ride from the dock to Hulopo‘e Beach Park and snorkel on the reef amongst a bevy of fish — and even the occasional monk seal. Sun-dry on the sand, then put on your cycling gear and explore the island along its relatively untraveled roads, or tackle one of its 10 hiking and mountain-biking trails. For lunch, ride into Lana‘i City for some local grindz, such as Ganotisi’s for Pacific Rim cuisine, or Pele’s Other Garden for salads, sandwiches and more. Coast back down to the dock and catch the late-afternoon ferry back to Maui. Mission complete!
19. Ag Tours Maui’s agricultural community is thriving, and our small island farms raise everything from coffee and flowers to vegetables and livestock. Maui Bees, Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate, O‘o Coffee Farm, Maui Tea Farm, Surfing Goat Dairy and many others offer tours that include delicious samples of their fare. Do a web search for “Maui Farm Tours” and check each farm’s website for the dates and times they are open to visitors.
20. Honu Hero Beach Cleanup Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, it’s important to malama (care for) our island, and the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute in Ma‘alaea makes it easy with its Honu (sea turtle) Hero Beach Cleanup Program. Head to MOC any time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to pick up your kit, which includes a data sheet, clipboard, pencils, gloves and a receptacle for debris. Choose a beach to tackle and get to work! Return your kit to MOC, where researchers will analyze the debris and data to help determine its origin. Post a picture of your cleanup on Instagram using #honuhero and receive a commemorative sticker. mocmarineinstitute.org